Saturday, April 26, 2008

It's Hard Not to Draw The Details!!

After my last post I thought it would be fun to draw Billy Bob, my horse, in similar cropped view of his face the way I had drawn "The Inspiration". Then I started visualizing what that might look like. In my mind I saw bold swatches of color and not much detail - ha - that is really hard for me to do!

I kept focusing on the details and wanted to draw them. I know that I should be able to draw with large strokes using different colors and values to get the depth I want but I feel I'm floundering right now with this one to get what I saw in my mind's eye on paper.
So is this drawing a failure? No. There is always something to learn from each of my drawings. What I do find rather interesting is that it is as if I almost feel restless. It has been hard lately to decide on what to draw and then there are pictures whirling around in my head that aren't as detailed as I usually do. Maybe it is the need to experiment with other mediums and styles. Who knows! The one thing I do know for sure - I will enjoy the journey!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

THE DRAWING . . . details & notes

Back in 1993 I drew this picture of a horse with a reflection of a reiner in its eye. Reining is a style of western horseback riding where a horse is ridden through various patterns at a lope and gallop. The patterns include magnificent sliding stops and fast spins. All of this is done with no resistance from the horse and should look effortless. It is often called the Western Dressage.

At the time, I was training with Gaetan Gauthier, a very talented Canadian horse trainer, who spoke very little English. He knew a horse’s mind, could think like a horse and with broken English taught me how to rein and train my horse Billy Bob. It’s a rare talent to be able to communicate both with horses and humans alike.

It was a fabulous time in my life. I learned a lot about horses and even more about myself. After one particularly hard day of training and finally getting it right and feeling so good about myself I knew I wanted to do something special for Gaetan. His birthday was coming up soon and so I decided to try and draw a horse for him. A special horse, to communicate how I felt about him as a trainer, how much I admired him as a person, and to communicate that special relationship he has with horses to everyone else. He was always “tuned into” the horse he was riding. At times you didn’t know where the horse left off and Gaetan began – it was awesome to watch that connection of minds.

Before that I really hadn’t drawn anything like this – nothing this “detailed” and nothing this inspired. I sat down one afternoon and began to draw. Now mind you, I was very unsure as to how it would turn out but knew in my mind what I wanted to draw – it was churning inside me. It took me a couple of hours and when I sat back to look at the results I was so pleased with it. Then I wanted to try to see if I could do it again. I did – much to my surprise! I thought it might be a fluke. This is one of three that I drew that afternoon. It was as if it bubbled up from my very core. I couldn’t draw fast enough. I was almost as tired from drawing as I had been taking a riding lesson from Gaetan.

I was so excited about the drawing and couldn’t wait to give Gaetan his. I will never forget that day. We were all at a restaurant to celebrate his birthday and I gave him the drawing, matted and framed. When he unwrapped the paper he just stared at it – not saying anything at all for several minutes. I was then getting very nervous. I thought he hated it or he didn’t understand what I was trying to say. Then he looked up at me and said very quietly “This is me isn’t it? This is me - I am the horse.” I almost cried.

Unless you have read my bio on my website you are probably wondering why in the world I would post this. Well, that was the start of all of this that I am doing now. The drawing, I call “The Inspiration,” isn’t perfect - in fact there is a lot wrong with it. I know I have improved since then but it is still very special to me. I just want to encourage you if you are just beginning to stick with it - keep drawing.

Since telling this story again has inspired me I may have to do something similar in the very near future. Maybe using Billy Bob as my model this time. Yep, he is still with me, retired from reining though. He turned 20 this month! Happy Birthday Billy Bob!

This drawing is on an 8” x10” cold press Crescent board. I used one mechanical pencil that I had bought at the grocery store – probably a 2B – and a kneaded eraser.

Here is a closeup of the horse's eye with the reflection of the reiner.

My website . . . Karen Hargett Fine Art

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Fledglings - Ready for Flight

I've finished the Fledglings tonight! At least I think so. As usual I'll let it sit for a day or two before calling it finished. I really like how these little sparrows have turned out - very sweet, soft and a little anxious to see what is out in the world.

Tonight I worked on lights and darks mainly on the tree branch and pine needles. I wanted more depth than I had last night so that means putting light against dark and warm against cool. Pine needles can be rather shiny and I've tried to give them a little light reflecting off of them to describe the shine. I did go in and darken the entire left side so it would feel more in shadow than it was in my early post. The other thing I worked on was the bark on the tree - more darks were added for shadows to describe the roughness.

I'm anxious to get this one matted and framed - I think it is going to look really nice.

If you are interested in purchasing The Fledglings or any of my other drawings please let me know. You can go to my website at

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Fledglings - Almost Finished

I worked some more on the fledglings and they are almost finished. You can see that I have been busy adding layers of color in the background, tree and tree branch covering all of the sand color velour. It has given it a totally different atmosphere don't you think? I wanted the background to be soft and have a misty feel about it.

My goal for this was to give us the idea that this branch was a little safe haven for the fledglings - at least for the moment.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Fledglings

It's spring - flowers are blooming, the grass is growing, birds are busy making their nest and soon lots of little birds will be out of their nests and taking their first flight like these little fledgling sparrows.

I like the composition because they aren't facing you so it makes it a little different view than normal. I have imagined they have probably flown for the first time from their nest and landed on this branch. It's as if they are looking out on this big, old, world, a little apprehensively, knowing this isn't like the comfort of their nest, but taking it all in, getting the courage to test their wings and fly again.

I'm still working on the sparrows, mostly the second one right now. Still adding layers of color - trying to get the look of the feathers just right. Fledglings have that combination of fluffy feathers they have as nestlings as well as their new adult feathers - so I really want the viewer to know - these birds are out on their own for the first time.

For this one I'm using all my pastels, Conte sticks, Carbo-Othello pencils and my soft Rembrandts. It's on velour sand colored paper and is about 14" x 11".

There is still more to do on this one so check back.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

What to do next. . .

I'm in a quandary this morning, too much that needs to be done and things that I want to do. There are the things that need to be done like clean house, mow the yard, work in the flowerbeds, build new shelves in my office, paint the house and the list goes on. Then there are the things I want to do - draw, take reference pictures, draw, ride my horse, draw. OK so my "want to do list" is repetitive but then it gets even shorter - Billy Bob, my horse is retired and hasn't been ridden in years because of feet problems so I hesitate to ride him for fear of make something flare up. Thinking about him also reminds me his stall needs to be cleaned. So that leaves drawing and taking reference pictures. I may get out with my camera and take some pictures around my place - that may remind me I need to mow and clean the flowerbeds though. Drawing! Yes that should work. Hmmm, I need to go through my reference pictures and sort them into categories to make it easier to decide what I want to do. Like I said - I'm in a quandary this morning.